Archaeologists in Britain have discovered the best-preserved Bronze Age wheel in Britain. The discovery was made at a site described as Peterborough’s Pompeii.
Working at Must Farm, a Bronze Age site near Peterborough, archaeologists uncovered the 3,000-year-old wheel, which is the first and largest complete example ever discovered in Britain. It also challenges what was previously thought on technology available 3,000 years ago.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said in a statement:
“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain. The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”
The site had large wooden round houses built on stilts, but after a dramatic fire 3,000 years ago the buildings had fallen into a river.
It is believed the ancient wooden wheel dates from 1100-800 BC, and is one meter in diameter; the silt has preserved it so well it still contains its hub. In the 1990s at a nearby site an incomplete Bronze Age wheel was found, but this new find is remarkable in terms of size and completeness.
The University of Cambridge wrote in a statement:
“The find is the latest in a series of discoveries at the Must Farm site, which is providing an extraordinary insight into domestic life 3,000 years ago. Excavation has already revealed circular wooden houses believed to be the best preserved Bronze Age dwellings ever found in Britain.
“The large wheel was unearthed just a few metres away from the biggest round house on the site. Other exciting finds include a wooden platter, small wooden box, and rare small bowls and jars with food remains inside, as well as exceptional textiles and Bronze Age tools. After a catastrophic fire, the houses collapsed into a slow-moving and silty river, which preserved their contents in amazing detail.”
David Gibson, Archaeological Manager from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, said:
“The discovery of the wheel demonstrates that the inhabitants of this watery landscape had links to the dry land beyond the river.”
The site is located at a quarry run by Forterra. Brian Chapman, Head of Land and Mineral Resources, said:
“This is an incredible project which we are delighted to be part of. We understand that the discovery of the wheel is of national importance. We are committed to helping uncover the remaining secrets of this unique site at Must Farm and look forward to working with our partners over the coming months.”
Kasia Gdaniec, Senior Archaeologist for Cambridgeshire County Council, said:
“Among the wealth of other fabulous artifacts and the new structural remains of round houses built over this river channel, this site continues to amaze and astonish us with its insight into prehistoric life, the latest being the discovery of this wooden wheel.
“Believed to be the most complete example yet found from this period, this wheel poses a challenge to our understanding of both Late Bronze Age technological skill and, together with the eight boats recovered from the same river in 2011, transportation.”
According to the University, Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage) and building products supplier Forterra are funding a major £1.1 million project to excavate 1,100 square meters of the Must Farm quarry site in Cambridgeshire. The Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge is over half way through the excavation, which is taking place because of concerns about the location and future preservation of the site.
When the excavation is finished, the team of archaeologists will remove the finds for further analysis and conservation. The objects will be displayed at Peterborough Museum, Flag Fen, and at other local venues.
Watch WD NEWS news report on the find: